“When the king has a sound mind, receives good counsel, and is wise without malice, he does well for his people — and the contrary is also true.” Medieval saying collected by Sir Juan Manuel in El Conde Lucanor.
Duratón River Gorges Natural Park near Sepúlveda, Spain. It includes the 12th century hermitage and monastery of St. Fructus. Photo by Txo.
King Lisuarte had been challenged months earlier to battle by King Cildadan of Ireland, and the battle is finally about to begin. Amadis, still known as Beltenebros, goes to the site of the battle with his squire, Enil, and volunteers to join the hundred knights who will fight alongside King Lisuarte. Enil begs Beltenebros to knight him so he can join the King’s company.
Among King Cildadan’s men are many treacherous giants, including Madanfabul, who has been ordered to wait on a small hill with ten other knights and attack after the battle is underway to try to kill or capture Lisuarte.
The battle is cruel, and after several hours, more than half the knights on both sides have died. At that point, Madanfabul attacks and drags King Lisuarte from his horse, holding him under his arm, to carry him off as a prisoner. Beltenebros comes to his rescue and cuts off the giant’s arm — and he shouts: “Gaul, Gaul, for I am Amadis!”
This rallies Lisuarte’s men and they win, led by Amadis. But Galaor has been badly injured. Amadis believes he will die, but twelve maidens arrive and ask to take Galaor away and give him medical care. They also ask King Lisuarte for King Cildadan, who is badly hurt. They take the two men to a ship and sail away.
The King embraces Amadis. The surviving knights rest, eat, and get their injuries treated. The dead knights are buried honorably in a chapel erected for them.
Meanwhile, Queen Briolanja comes to Miraflores Castle to meet Oriana, and they instantly become best friends forever.
Sir Galaor wakes up jailed in a beautiful room in a garden. A damsel comes to treat him, and soon he realizes that the damsel is Urganda the Unrecognized, a powerful sorceress who has helped him in the past. His squire and the dwarf Ardian are brought to serve him. King Cildadan awakes locked inside a tower. He is treated by people who do not talk to him, and he believes he is a prisoner until Urganda tells him otherwise. Two beautiful damsels care for the injured men; the damsels become pregnant, and the sons will become valiant knights, and Galaor and Cildadan will be released, but all that shall be recounted “farther on.”
Amadis meets with Queen Briolanja and Oriana, and after some joking, he urges Briolanja to test the forbidden room at Firm Island to see if she is the most beautiful woman in the world. This hurts Oriana’s feelings until he explains to her that he knows Briolanja will fail but Oriana, when she tries it, will win, but if Oriana did it first, everyone would wonder if Briolanja could have won, so he had urged Briolanja to try it for Oriana’s greater glory.
Sir Cuadragante and Amadis become fast friends, and the court begins to scheme to free King Arban of North Wales and Angriote de Estravaus, who are being held prisoner and tortured at the Island of Mongaza.
A strange ship with a huge fire in its mast docks and turns out to carry Urganda the Unrecognized; the fire was sorcery. She assures Amadis that his brother Galaor is safe. The King and Queen welcome her, she performs feats of magic. She delivers disturbing prophesies to Oriana and Amadis and about the Kingdom in general before she departs.
An exceptionally tall damsel arrives with a message for the King. Amadis had killed the husband and son of a giantess named Gromadaza, who is holding Arban and Angriote de Estravaus prisoner. She has learned that the King wants to free them. She will send the valiant knight Ardan Canileo to fight Amadis. If Amadis wins, Gromadaza will deliver the prisoners and her lands, but if Ardan wins, he will kill Amadis and the lands and prisoners will remain in her hands. And the lady Madasima, daughter of Gromadaza, will come to serve as a hostage to guarantee the proposal.
Amadis accepts the battle and invites the damsel to dine at his lodging to honor her. She accepts, but impolitely. While she is there, she steals the magic sword Amadis had won in a test of his love. She delivers it to Ardan Canileo, who is a mighty but very ugly knight. Madasima has agreed to marry him because her mother is forcing her, but she finds him repugnant.
Amadis greets Ardan and Madasima as they arrive with the customary exchange of insults between the two knights, but as he prepares that night for the battle, he discovers that his sword is missing. He arranges to have it replaced by his father’s sword, which had been left with him when he was abandoned as a baby.
The battle begins, and it is fierce. Oriana watches from a window, and her presence, especially the sight of her hair – women’s hair was sexy in medieval times – gives Amadis great courage. Madasima hopes Amadis will win so she does not have to marry Ardan. But the battle goes badly for Amadis even before his sword breaks. Inspired by Oriana, he makes a bold move that disarms Ardan, and he kills him and wins the fight.
Sir Bruneo of Bonamar had challenged the brother of the exceptionally tall damsel to a battle. The battle is held, Bruneo wins, and she commits suicide.
Although King Lisuarte has enjoyed great good fortune for many years, he has two scheming old counselors in his court, and they are jealous of Amadis. They begin to tell the King that Amadis is planning to take the Kingdom from him. Foolishly, the King believes them.
Sir Galvanes falls in love with Madasima. When Amadis has recovered from the injuries suffered in his battle with Ardan Canileo, he and Agrajes and Galvanes meet with the King. Amadis proposes giving Madasima’s land to Galvanes as a wedding gift, thus rewarding his outstanding service and keeping the land in the realm. The King refuses, and when the knights complain, he tells them to leave and seek someone who would appreciate them.
That night, Amadis secretly meets with Oriana, and while in bed, explains that he must leave. She is heartbroken but grants permission. The next morning, Amadis calls together many knights and tells them he is departing for Firm Island, explains why, and invites them to accompany him. Many agree to do so.